The Denver Nuggets should explore the possibility of signing Brandon Ingram this offseason.
New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram, the 2019-20 Most Improved Player of the Year, will be a restricted free agent this offseason. While there’s only a slim chance that the Denver Nuggets will actually be able to sign Ingram in the fall, the Nuggets should still put out feelers for the 2020 All-Star, making their interest in his talents known to his agent.
Simply put, the Nuggets need a reliable scorer who can take some of the pressure off of Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic on offense.
In-house, there are a number of candidates: Jerami Grant, Michael Porter Jr. and Will Barton.
However, Grant — who’s widely expected to decline his player option for the 2020-21 season — could leave or come back to the team. Porter, who has superstar potential, has a substantial amount of necessary development ahead of him. Barton is a consistent playmaker but one of the most injury-prone players on the roster.
Meanwhile, Ingram is a three-level scorer whose shown he can be the leader on a team that has a generational talent in Zion Williamson and an underrated star in Jrue Holiday.
In 2019-20, Ingram averaged 23.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game on 46.3% shooting from the field and 39.1% shooting from 3-point range. These numbers weren’t empty stats when considering the level of difficulty of his shots and how integral they were to the team’s ability to win games.
What makes it better is that, despite the jump he made last season, Ingram’s just 23-years-old and has plenty of room to grow.
Nonetheless, while there are upsides to the Nuggets pursuing Ingram in the offseason, it’s unlikely to happen because of the financial hoops Denver would have to jump through to make the deal. Ingram could demand a max contract that pays him nearly $167 over the next five seasons and without trading away Barton and Gary Harris for cap room, it’s not feasible.
Another issue is that Ingram appears to enjoy being the most skilled offensive player that the Pelicans have; with the Nuggets, he would be third in the pecking order and that’s a role he may not enjoy at this stage in his career.
That said, this year’s free agency is going to be an interesting one regardless.
Although stars like Anthony Davis, Gordon Hayward and DeMar DeRozan are expected to remain with their current teams — whether they decline their player option for 2020-21 or pick it up — there are quite a few restricted free agents that may be able to be pried away from their respective clubs.
Ingram is just one of them.